Are Red Tail Sharks Aggressive?

image of Red Tail Shark will eat other fish

If you want a feisty, unique-looking fish for your freshwater tank, you should consider a red tail shark! Red tail sharks are freshwater fish known for their fiery personalities and shark-like appearance. 

Though fun to watch, red tail sharks are known to be aggressive around other fish. Those interested in raising red tail sharks should keep this aggression in mind before getting any tank mates for their red tail sharks.

After all, you don’t want your tank mates to be bullied!

Below, we’ll talk a bit more about red tail sharks and their temperament. We’ll also give you some advice for finding suitable tank mates for this aggressive species.

Read on to learn more!

What Are Red Tail Sharks?

As mentioned previously, red tail sharks are freshwater fish known for their shark-like appearance. Though they are not “real” sharks, they are extremely common in the fish trade and are enjoyed by many home aquarium hobbyists.

Red tail sharks have a distinct appearance with a solid black body and a bright red tail fin. They also have small whiskers, similar to a catfish.

This species grows up to six inches in length and can live anywhere between five and eight years with good care. They are also originally from Thailand and are best for owners with a bit more aquarium experience due to their personalities.

Because red tail sharks often inhabit shallow streams and creeks in the wild, they tend to inhabit the middle and lower parts of your tank. You can also expect them to snack along your substrate between meals as they can behave like bottom feeders as well. 

Learn more: What Do Red Tail Sharks Eat? (FIVE OF THE BEST FOODS)

Red Tail Shark Temperament

Though red tail sharks are fun to watch and attractive to look at, they are also known for their feisty temperaments. Red tail sharks are known to be an aggressive species and can become territorial with other fish.

Because of this, it is important to make sure your tank is big enough for your red tail shark. We recommend a minimum tank size of 55 gallons so your red tail shark has enough space to swim freely without becoming too territorial with your other fish.

If other fish swim into your red tail shark’s space, they can become aggressive quickly. They may nip at your other fish or charge at them, which can cause significant stress in your tank mates.

Plus, red tail sharks are known for their speed. They are active swimmers and can catch up to many different species of fish that cross their path. 

Because red tail sharks are nocturnal, most of their activity will be after sundown. We recommend staying up your first few days of having a red tail shark to make sure they aren’t causing too many issues in your communal tank. 

You should also note that red tail sharks aren’t just aggressive with other species. Red tails have no issues getting aggressive with their kind, especially if two males are near each other. 

When in doubt, stick to one red tail shark and keep an eye on them!

Raising Red Tail Sharks With Tank Mates

Though you know red tail sharks are aggressive, you may still be wondering if it’s possible to raise them with tank mates. The answer is actually yes – red tail sharks can be raised with some tank mates, but there are specific guidelines to follow. 

Because of their aggression, red tail sharks often need other aggressive tank mates alongside them.

We recommend other semi-aggressive and territorial fish, as they actually do well with red tail sharks since each species can inhabit its own section of the tank. 

Some of the top tank mates for red tail sharks include:

  • Tiger barbs
  • Freshwater angelfish
  • Zebra danios
  • Congo tetras
  • Other red tail sharks

Tiger barbs and freshwater angelfish can make good tank mates for your red tail shark.

It is also best to get a species that will inhabit the middle to upper levels of the tank so the two species can avoid each other most of the time. 

If you’re concerned about too much aggression in your tank, you can get your red tail shark some peaceful tank mates to spend their days with. However, you will have to get peaceful species known for their fast swimming abilities!

If you get a peaceful, slow-swimming fish, they won’t be able to escape or defend themselves in the event your red tail shark attacks them. This is a recipe for disaster for your poor tank mates.

Look for quick, peaceful species like zebra danios or congo tetras. These fish are fast but still generally know how to keep to themselves, so you shouldn’t observe too many fights between them and your red tail shark.

You also have the option of getting some other red tail sharks in your tank and sticking to one species.

You’ll just have to make sure you don’t have more than one male, as they may fight for territory and mates if they have to share a tank. 

Finally, be sure to provide lots of plants and driftwood in your tank. These decorations can help provide hiding places for your tank mates in case they need to escape your red tail shark. 

They can also provide a safe spot for your red tail shark to sleep along the bottom of your tank. With their fiery personalities, the last thing you want to do is accidentally wake them from their nap!


Red tail sharks can make fascinating and fun freshwater pets for your home aquarium. However, you should keep their aggressive personalities in mind before making any rash decisions for your tank.

Remember that other semi-aggressive fish that can defend themselves or peaceful, quick fish that can escape your red tail make the most feasible tank mates for this species. Your tank mates don’t want to be harassed, so get an extra large tank and choose wisely!

Do you own red tail sharks? Let us know about your experiences with them down below. 

If you have additional questions about your home aquarium, ask them in the comments. We may pick yours to write about next!

Scroll to Top